DIABETES MAJOR PROBLEM FOR MARSHALLESE IN U.S.

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Half of those attending health fair had disease

By Aenet Rowa

MAJURO, Marshall Islands (Yokwe, June 10, 20080) – Health clinicians, at a mini-fair held at last month's Marshallese celebration in Northwest Arkansas, found that 50 percent of the participants had glucose readings that indicated diabetes. Of the 110 Marshallese persons checked, only one-fourth of participants had normal blood pressure and blood glucose levels.

The health education department for the Jones Center for Families, collaborated with area providers to bring the side-event to the annual event in Springdale. Over the Memorial Holiday weekend, hundreds of Marshall Islanders, residing in Arkansas and across the U.S., came to commemorate the 29th anniversary of their homeland's constitution and welcome Republic of the Marshall Islands President Litokwa Tomeing. Local and state officials attended the opening ceremonies, including Arkansas Senator Bill Pritchard, who has been supportive of government-funded health care programs for Marshallese.

According to a Jones Center report, its Community Health & Wellness center and the St. Francis Community Clinic collaborated to identify persons at risk for diabetes. Height, weight, body mass index, percent body fat, capillary blood glucose and blood pressure were measured.

A Certified Diabetes Educator and several Marshallese translators are employed by the Community Clinic.

"In general, only about 25% had a normal blood pressure reading. About 25% had a normal blood glucose reading of less than 100 mg/dl. About 25% had a glucose reading in the pre-diabetes range of 100 – 126 mg/dl. About 50% had glucose readings that indicated diabetes, ranging from 130 to over 500 mg/dl."

The Jones Center's follow-up report, provided to Yokwe Online by Marshallese Community Liaison Carmen Chong Gum, detailed some of the health problems faced by the Marshallese

"Several persons indicated they knew they had diabetes, but had run out of their medication. Some had a normal blood pressure, but were obese and had high blood sugar. Some had a normal blood sugar, but had high blood pressure. Most had several risk factors for heart disease and stroke; diabetes, obesity and high blood pressure," stated the report.

Those participants with high blood sugar or blood pressure were given instructions to come to the clinic for evaluation, medication, and/or education.

In addition to St. Francis Community Clinic's diabetes treatment and dental programs, Washington County Health Department offered information on environmental health, vaccinations, and STI. The Jones Center's health department focused on cancer screening program, blood pressure and blood sugar testing. Washington Regional Medical Center provided and hydration education and translation program Springdale Vision Clinic tested for visual acuity.

Fair attendees were introduced to further resources from the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) commodities agency, the Bilingual Nursing Scholarship program, Northwest Arkansas Community College (NWACC), Innovex – insulin injection system, and the Credit Counseling of Arkansas financial assistance and information.

Yokwe: http://www.yokwe.net/

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